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Thursday, August 09, 2012

"It is just a fact of life" - Bishop Hugh, O.S.B.

As a monk and a priest, I don't marry. This doesn't make me better or worse than married people. It is just a fact of life. Someone out there has been deprived of the privilege of having me as a husband; it just is not my role.

Rt. Rev. Dom Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B.
Bishop of Aberdeen

There are hundreds of married people in the pews every Sunday and they do not celebrate Mass or hear Sacramental confessions. That doesn't mean that God loves them more or less than He loves me. It is just a fact of life. It is not their role to be priests.

In the Church it is not possible for a priest to marry. This is a matter of Church law. It could conceivably change. In our society, it is not possible for two men or two women to marry. That is not discrimination. It is not just a human law which can be changed. It is a fact of life.

Someone swimming the English Channel.

Saying that everybody should have the right to marry is like saying that everybody should have the right to swim the Channel. The fact is that not everybody can do it, or should even try. It is simply not possible.

It seems to me that the government has looked at civil partnerships and decided that they are so similar in every way to civil marriages that we might as well simply change the name. You might think that is fair enough and there is no difference. The truth is that a government can pass any legislation it likes, it can legislate to say that everything with four legs is a table, even when it is a dog and not a horse, but that won't make it so.
A Wedding in the East.

People have understood the meaning of marriage for thousands of years. Crucially, it has three limits. It is limited by number - you can only marry one person at a time. It is limited by relationships, a man cannot marry his niece, for example. And it is limited by gender - only men and women can marry.

A Wedding in the West.

Now a combination of misplaced kindness, fashion and a commitment to equality are leading the government to propose removing one of those three pillars. Why not the other two? Why is it alright for a man to marry another man, but not alright for him to marry two women? If we really want equality, why does that equality not extend to nieces who genuinely, truly love their uncles? And, if you say that such things do not happen, that they are mere freaks of nature, extreme examples dreamed up for the sake of argument, I say you need to spend more time in the parish.

And do you really want your little boy being taught that when he grows up he can marry another boy if he wants?

Fifty years ago nobody would have believed we could seriously be discussing gay 'marriage.' Fifty years from now will we be discussing multi-marriages in the same way?

The God I try to serve does not condemn. He did not condemn the woman taken in adultery but, if she had asked him to conduct a wedding service with her lover, he would have refused. It would simply have been impossible.

As Bishop of Aberdeen, I know there are gay people amongst the community of the Church. I promise I will always respect and love them and uphold them in their relationship with the God who loves them. But I won't marry them. It just cannot be done.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B.
Bishop of Aberdeen


Supertradmum said...

Brilliant and spiritual and THANK you for posting this. We are entering into an age of post-civilization and sliding into barbarism very quickly. We need more Church leaders, more bishops like this holy man.

Konstantin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr. A.M. said...

I don't think that changing the current position on celibacy is merely a matter of Church law that can be done away with. It has been shown that it has apostolic origins and has a strong theological and christological (and a practical) basis for priests. I think that we, in the West, should be honest about this. In the East - I think - a man may not marry after he has received the priesthood, or may not re-marry if he was married before ordination and his wife has subsequently died. I don't think there are any married orthodox bishops in the East. Aren't they all monks ? Otherwise I agree entirely with what Bishop Hugh has said - well done your Lordship.

Anonymous said...

Very helpful to have a clear statement from our bishop on this issue. Also I am edified by these beautiful photographs of young people being joined in holy wedlock. Long may this continue!

Frater Anselm, Tongerlo Abbey. said...

Let us pray for Bishop Hugh who has been misquoted and slighted in the press. He is quite right in what he said about this matter. Indeed, I agree with the Archp-elect of Glasgow, when he said that this issue will define relations between the government and the Church. It does not have the support of the Scottish people.
... and greetings to all the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Jack said...

\\It is limited by number - you can only marry one person at a time. It is limited by relationships, a man cannot marry his niece, for example.\\

It will be very hard to prove this from the OT.

Remember that David and Solomon, as well as lesser OT persons, had multiple wives.

And Abraham married his half-sister.

Uncle-neice marriages are not unknown in Judaism. I believe the first Rothschild of note was married to his much younger neice.

Otherwise, an excellent article.

inkstain said...

What a great statement by Bishop Hugh. With charity but not swerving from the teaching of the Church for the sake of expediency or accomodation.

Prayers for him and for those who seek to attack him in the press.

gilito said...

Thank you for such a clear and patient answer.

As an minor point...

In fact there are more than 3 restrictions: Existing holy orders require a special dispensation, for example.

There is also a restriction in AGE, a 57 year old man may not marry a six year old girl, for example. (Mohammed did this...)

Then we also have restriction of consent. You can only marry who consents knowingly and freely.

I am curious why it is that a civil partnership is also an a major issue with some, like the cardinal from Edinburgh, and he is happy to team up with the local Muslims to protest against it, but we never heard a word from him or any bishop condemning any of the quite revolting practices to do with marriage in Islam.

If you want to defend the Catholic identity of marriage, why are these other practices now present in our isles never addressed. I am happy to provide a list if wanted.

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